Closing keynote: globalization and the diplomacy of science.

Author:Makhema, Joseph


I thank the organizers for the invitation. The meeting comes at a unique time when there are efforts to strengthen capacity for both research-related activities and regulation of the research. Also, it comes at a time when there is unprecedented interest by various stakeholders in research linkages in Botswana. We at the Botswana Harvard Partnership certainly welcome all newcomers and hope that their efforts in Botswana and regionally shall drive research activities to a higher level, resulting in scientific research and new innovations actively contributing towards the diversification of the economy and development in Botswana. The conference also comes at the time when the School of Medicine is in its formative stages, so students, staff, and community members shall benefit from the outcome of deliberations. If the first two days of the conference are any indication, I can only hope that my presentation shall add value to the addresses that have preceded mine. I refer to the very pertinent key issues addressed in Archbishop Tutus opening keynote address on Human Illness and the Experience of Vulnerability, and the various contributions of other speakers and presenters.

Advances in scientific research and development have largely been vested in the developed countries. There is no doubt that science drives economic growth and development. The phenomenal growth and discovery of new information technologies is an indication of how that aspect has contributed to economic growth in some countries. Countries that have prioritized science, such as Japan, have leapfrogged over others in various indices of development.

The topic at hand is Globalization and the Diplomacy of Science.

My definition of globalization in science is as follows: It is the process of increasing the connectivity and interdependence of the world's scientific community in areas of research and scientific development. This definition has implications for the development of the physical and human infrastructure for scientific activities. It also implies homogeneity, benchmarking, uniformity of scientific processes, competencies and activities. Globalization in science, for me, is the trans-frontier ability to harness scientific and technological advances for the promotion of peace and sustainable development for the benefit of all countries individually and collectively!

Embedded in my utopian definition of the globalization of science is a moral and ethical obligation we have to ensure diplomacy, the equitable distribution of research and development opportunities, and of uniformity in scientific investment and resource allocation to ensure standardization of the physical and human infrastructure for scientific research and development. There are challenges to that definition, which is why I believe the organizers added the aspect of diplomacy ... Hence, Globalization and the Diplomacy of Science.

Coming from an HIV/AIDS background, I have chosen to use the HIV/AIDS challenge as a case study to underpin various perspectives that relate to the topic at hand. Why? Because HIV/AIDS has catalyzed an unprecedented interest in global health. In turn, global health has been driven by the worldwide threat of new emerging diseases and different paradigms of the spread of diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), swine flu (HIN1), tuberculosis (TB) and malaria. HIV/AIDS and these emergent diseases have triggered new challenges for research and have stimulated collaborative approaches to address the problems they pose.

These disease-focused universal problems have encouraged decision makers in academic institutions--including those in the USA,...

To continue reading